Match 43
23rd March 1996
Plymouth Argyle (home)


Division Three, 23 March 1996 (Attendance 6,195)

Exeter City : Peter Fox (player-manager); Neil Parsley, Noel Blake, Mark Came, Darren Hughes; Danny Bailey, Jon Richardson, Mark Cooper; Mark Gavin, Leon Braithwaite, Adrian Foster (sub: John Sharpe 59 mins - sub Colin Anderson 87 mins).

Plymouth Argyle  :Steve Cherry; Mark Patterson, Richard Logan, Mick Heathcote, Paul Williams; Chris Billy, Gary Clayton, Ian Baird, Martin Barlow; Adrian Littlejohn, Mickey Evans; Manager: Neil Warnock.

On the eve of this derby, Plymouth Argyle defenders Mick Heathcote and Paul Williams received recognition from their fellow professionals when they were named in the Professional Footballers Association Division Three Team of the Year. However, in a one sided contest at St James Park, an outclassed City side showed that they also had useful defenders with brilliant performances from 'keeper Peter Fox and central defenders Noel Blake and Mark Came, which held the promotion-hopefuls to a draw.

On New Year's Day, the City underdogs had come away from Home Park leaving Argyle grateful for a point, and the return also ended in a frustrating stalemate for the visitors. Plymouth were at full strength against an injury-plagued City side, with debut boy Adrian Foster meeting his team-mates for the first time in the dressing room before the kick-off. The Argyle attack immediately clicked quickly into gear and earned a ninth minute lead with a superb strike from Gary Clayton. After good work by Chris Billy and Ian Baird, the veteran midfielder hit a 25-yard swerving drive between two defenders, who were attempting to close him down, and the ball flew past an unsighted Peter Fox. Ten minutes later, City finally broke out of defence and winger Mark Gavin swung a long ball to the far post, which defender Mark Patterson failed to clear. The ball was hit back into the box by Mark Cooper, and Richard Logan instinctively stuck out a foot and deflected it into his own net. This fluke enabled the Grecians to mount a second-half backs-to-the-wall effort, as Argyle's midfield quartet of Chris Billy, Gary Clayton, Ian Baird and Martin Barlow ploughed through the clinging mud, running City into the ground. Strikers Adrian Littlejohn and Mickey Evans were a constant menace, but even if they got the better of central defenders Noel Blake and Mark Came, they were denied by the flying brilliance of Peter Fox. The Grecians almost snatched an unlikely winner when the redoubtable Mark Came temporarily abandoned his defensive duties and moved up to head a Mark Gavin cross inches over the bar.

Match Report 2

It was described as being one of the most important local derby matchers between the Grecians and the Pignims for many years, Sadly the game, over the entire 90 minutes, never realy lived up to it's pre-match billing. There was plenty of effort from both sides on a difficult pitch, but there were precious few flowing moves strung together by either side

City's largest attendance of the season were treated to an exciting opening 20 minute spell, during which time both sides scored, but after that it al became a Ittle scrappy, with neither side giving anything away

Gary Clayton had an eventul opening 9 minutes He was booked for allegedly kicking Mark Cooper after the pair had tangled on the edge of the City penalty area, but six minutes later lashed home a stunning shot which swerved in mid-air to beat Peter Fox Argyle at this stage were looking a bright and breezy outfit pushing the Grecians back on the defensive. having started the game in a confident mood.

Exeter ance again showed their battling qualities and fought their way back into contention. After a spell of pressure Mark Cooper's second goal attempt to a defection off Argyle defender Richard Logan and spun into the net for the equaliser Argyle continued to enjoy the lions share of possession, but the City

defence were in magnificent form. with Mark Came and Noel Blake in particular, dominating in front of an equally on-form Pater Fox. In midfield the ever popular Danny Bailey epitomised the spirit in the St James Park squad this season with a hard working performance.

Up front. City had to rely on the pace of Leon Brathwaite, and he did cause one or two anxious moments in the Argyle rearguard. Now loan signing Adrian Foster, who was making his debut, found it difficut to get into the game, although to be fair to him he only met his team mates shortly before kick-off.

Exeter ended the half with Fux masking a sharp stop from Adrian Litejohn and watching efforts from Logan and Littlejohn again, shot wide at the target. For all the Argyle pressure though,

Exeter managed to cope quite comfortably with any threat that they were posed. Came kept a close rein on Michael Evans whilst Jon Richardson slotted into a marking role against their leading scorer Littlejohn

Exeter had few chances in the second half and it was sometime before they mounted an attack of any note. Argyle still couldn't find any way through the City defence either, and when Richard logan did find a gap, his volley brought an excellent stop out of Fox. Mark Came moved into the attack for a comer, but directed a header wide of the target, in a brief respite from the continuing probing of a hard working Argyle size Having said that, City more than matched them in terms of determination and work rate.

Braithwaite ploughed alone furrow at times up front and when he did break clear on a couple of occasions, he had to slow the move up to allow his colleagues to join him. City hardly troubled the Argyle keeper after the interval, spending much of the game in their own hall stemming the Plymouth attacks

Both sides had to settle for a point, like they had to at Home Park on Kew Years Day. The difference this time was that the game was not as entertaining as the first meeting had been. Nevertheless, both managers expressed their satisfaction at gaining a point

Peter Fox said: "Plymouth were always a threat and I thought Mark Came and Noel Blake were a magnificent paring. If we'd had two centre halves who weren't on the ball they would have caused us problems"

Whilst both sets of supporters will have been reasonably happy with the outcome (both would have preferred a win of course), they left the ground knowing that this had not been one of the classic City-Argyle encounters.

City team: Peter Fox, Nell Parsley. Darren Hughes, Adrian Foster, Noel Blake, Jon Richardson, Mark Gavin, Mark Cooper Leon Braithwaite. Danny Bailey, Mark Came

Subs used: John Sharpe for Foster (59th) Colin Anderson for Sharpe (57th).
Subs  not used: Barry McConnell

Argyle team: Steve Cherry, Mark Patterson, Paul Willams Chris Bity. Mick Heathcote, Gary Clayton, lan Baird, Richard Logan, Adrian Littlejohn, Michael Evans, Martin Barlow

Subs not used: Danny O'Hagan, Keith Hill, Chris Leadbetter. .

Exeter: Logan og 
Plymouth Clayton

Attendance: 6185



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